By now, you may have heard the news about SAP acquiring the survey software company, Qualtrics. But what does the acquisition mean for you, the SAP customer?

SAP Bill McDermott has explained it as a synergy that provides a powerful combination of SAP’s expertise in capturing operational data (o-data) with Qualtrics’ ability to capture experience data (x-data). Ryan Smith, Qualtrics’ CEO, adds that operational data tells you what’s going on, whereas the experience data tells you why it's happening. “It allows you to get human sentiment in the moment. The ability to combine these and have one single view will transform the way we even think about CRM [customer relationship management] as we know it.”

What is Qualtrics?

Qualtrics is a startup company founded in Utah in 2002 that established itself by focusing on the academic market. It has since grown from a survey company that provided a platform for students and professors conducting research to one with a customer base of 9,000 across nine countries on four continents.

“Qualtrics is the leader in survey software when it comes to user experience data,” said Adam Page, ASUG’s market research specialist.

What differentiates it from its competitors is that it can capture and analyze data from real-time sources, including social media and email. It also offers increased functionality on the back end for customized research and reports. “If you’re thinking about it from the customer’s perspective, it allows a company that wants to measure customer experience to do it at a much more significant level,” said Page.

Why Measure Customer Experience?

Measuring your customers’ experience yields valuable information that can apply to everything you do as an organization, ranging from conceptualizing and engineering a product, to manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping it. Knowing whether your end customer is satisfied, and if not, why not, can influence your strategies and decision-making processes.

Qualtrics’ experience management software (XM Platform) collects feedback and data across four areas of a business—customers, employees, product, and brand. “The customer experience is the moment of truth,” said Cheryl Parsons, ASUG’s CMO, and a former Qualtrics customer. “It provides visibility into what your customers want, which will ultimately make you more efficient as an organization.”

More Efficient at What Cost?

All of this sounds likely to be a needed tool to help organizations deliver not only a better customer experience, but a more efficient organization. Yet there are still questions that need to be answered. What does this acquisition mean for current SAP customers, both for those who already use Qualtrics and those who don’t? For those who already work with the survey software, what will happen to the product? Qualtrics is known for being highly customizable and scalable. Will that remain the same?

For SAP customers who aren't using Qualtrics, the question becomes, “What value does it add for my organization?” Is this going to be included with existing SAP contracts in the future, or will it be a stand-alone product?

Where Qualtrics Fits Within SAP C/4HANA

Page added that organizations looking to move to SAP C/4HANA should wonder how Qualtrics will fit into the entire suite. Clearly, Qualtrics aligns with the front end. “For example," he said, “if an organization moves to the SAP C/4HANA suite to take advantage of having one profile for one customer on the master data platform across all these different applications—marketing, commerce, sales, service, and customer data—how does all of that fit in with the experience data?”

Tell Me About the Integration

McDermott was quoted as saying, “There are millions of complaints every day about disappointing customer experiences. This is called the experience gap. Businesses used to have time to sort this out, but in today’s unforgiving world, the damage is immediate, disruption is imminent. This has shifted the challenge from running a business to guaranteeing great experiences for every single person.”

It's likely appealing to organizations to have data that will provide clear insights about why its customers are making purchases (or not) and to gauge their satisfaction levels. But what does this mean in terms of integrating with the other technologies in your environment, whether you are running SAP ERP systems or non-SAP systems? How would something like Qualtrics connect?

For Now, It's the What and Why

If you are an SAP customer, how easy will it be to integrate? Will this be a sixth cloud offering under SAP C/4HANA? “I think for now, it will remain somewhat independent,” Page said. “I don’t quite see it taking that shape because it’s not a specific function like sales or marketing. It’s about being able to collect survey data in a more meaningful way.” The Qualtrics functionality could even find its way into other products like SAP SuccessFactors, which could benefit from its Employee Experience surveys.

Collecting data in a meaningful way is a step in the right direction. The what and why are straightforward. The how remains to be answered. Our goal is to seek clarity for both SAP and Qualtrics customers as the details get hashed out, so be sure to check back with ASUG News and ASUG’s First Five in the coming months.